No, I’m not asking why I’m on this earth – well, I’m not going to try to answer that in this post! – but I’m responding to the question posed by my beloved in this blog entry. And I’ll confess right up front that I haven’t yet read the article he links to from the NYT Magazine. I understand it’s a long one, but it’s okay if you want to go read it first; I’ll be here waiting when you get back.
I have kept two different blogs before this one, and in fact, blogging was one of the ways CdnGroom and I connected online, several years back. We’d known each other since late 1997 from an email group of Anglicans from around the world, and we in 2003 and 2004, we read each other’s blogs and left encouraging comments on subjects from church to jobs to depression to funny kid stories. My first blog – and his at the time, too – went up in smoke when the web host imploded, and that was really sad because the host went belly-up due to online vandalism. My second blog was just kind of ehn, and I don’t think I ever knew why I restarted it. I know that Godbloggers tend to be a fairly tightly knit and supportive community. You can certainly see this among commenters at Fr. Jake’s place, or over at MadPriest’s. And though I don’t primarily identify as a Godblogger, if you browse through what I write here (or what I wrote in my old blogs), that seems to be what I am and what I’m doing. In my blog entries, I am looking for the hand of God at work in my life, listening for the voice of God among all the voices in my life, seeking those love notes that God sends us all too often, and that we all too often ignore.
(See? There I go again! 🙂 )
In my very first post here, I laid out a goal for myself, in this blog:
So on January 30, sick, in pain, tired, frustrated, and angry, I decided to be grateful. And that night, after my class that is so disappointing, while I lay in bed settling my thoughts so that I could sleep, I decided to share my gratitude. For one thing, blogging will help keep me honest. Even if nobody ever reads this, I know that somebody might, sometime. So I want to try to journal every day – at least Monday through Friday – about some small thing that I’m grateful for, that makes me happy, or that makes me really, really sarcastic.
And I stuck to that goal for a while. I didn’t keep up with posting quite every day as I’d intended, though I was definitely better about this at first. But I wrote more posts, and shorter ones, than I do now. I like to think that what I write here still shows that I am deeply grateful for all the rich blessings that are in my life, even the blessings that make me uncomfortable or even angry. But I’m no longer writing this blog as a daily discipline of showing gratitude.
Of course, I’m not in the same place I was a mere 16 months ago when I began this blog. What was the number one stressor in my life on the day I started blogging here – though I refused to acknowledge it just yet – has been moved to the periphery in my life, and by my choice. I no longer feel frustrated and angry at that relationship every hour of every day. I no longer flirt with depression and the harmful thoughts and fantasies that accompany it. I am nowhere near despair any more – well, most of the time… seems there’s about one day each month… but you don’t want to hear about that – and so it is not as crucially important for me to maintain a daily discipline of finding something (ANYthing!) to be grateful for, sarcastic or not.
So why am I blogging today?
Well, I have friends here now. You, reading this – I’m betting you’re someone who knows me, or at least the part of me that is visible online. And I’ll bet that I read your blog regularly, just as you read mine. Maybe this isn’t true, and maybe you’re a friend I haven’t encountered yet. But this community is a wonderful thing, and it has sustained me through the ups and downs of the last year. And I am deeply, profoundly grateful for that. This blog forms an intersection point in my life, and there are people from a number of different communities – online and off – who visit me here. Folks who know me know that this place is where I’m telling the stories of my life, venting about the things that frustrate me, or just writing preachy lectionary posts if everything is going well.
And, see, those lectionary posts are another kind of discipline. I’m engaging with God right now, trying to listen to God’s voice in my life, echoed by those around me. The last year has seen a tremendous amount of change in my life, and I am not the same person I was in 2007. So I’m trying to come to grips with who this new warriormare is, with the new things I’ve learned about myself, and to discern the new direction my life is headed. Where am I going? Is that where I want to go? Where is God leading me? Why does that frighten me? Where is the place where my deep gladness meets the world’s deep need? (OMG – and who would have ever imagined Frederick Buechner to be on MySpace?!?!?) So the lectionary posts are a weekly discipline for me, of engaging with God’s voice as it speaks to us through scripture, through the lectionary, through our weekly worship. Sometimes that voice is gentle and loving and comforting, and sometimes it is challenging and uncomfortable and maybe even scary. Sometimes I don’t feel like wrestling with scripture, and sometimes I don’t feel like writing, and sometimes blogging seems pointless – and these seem to be the times when I most need it.
I also usually need to process things. I can be pretty quick at this – my spiritual director used to be surprised at how quick, but she isn’t any more – but the final step for me is almost always to write about it, to put it into context and wrap my arms and my mind and my heart around it. And then I can let it go. But I find that this reflection is very important to me, so that I can see both the weeds tangled up on the ground and the amazing forest that they form a part of.
So. Would I continue to blog here if nobody ever came to visit and read? I don’t know. I will admit that it is fun to watch my page views and the search strings that people find me with. I wonder about the people who find me here, who listen to my voice for a little while, and then continue with their lives. I often find myself sending up quick and silent prayers for my visitors, both the friends I’ve come to know through this blog and those who have found me in a search on “showing gratitude when depressed” or “being unlovely” or perhaps something as boring as “year a proper 3.”
I have come to a much deeper and richer appreciation for community over the last year, and my community here, all the circles that seem to intersect for me at my blog – this community is important to me. So even if the things I post don’t seem to match the title at the top of my blog, even if I’m posting to vent, to reflect, or to just be silly, I’m here because I choose to be. I’m here because of you, the people I’ve met and come to know over time. I want to continue to hear about your lives, to hold you in my heart and in my prayers, and to hope that you want to continue to hear about my life.
I could be impish and mischievous (Me? Mischievous? Never!!!) and make this a meme and tap some of you to ask you to answer it, but I won’t. I’m just hoping that maybe you’ll think about this question a little bit on your own. Maybe you can answer it more clearly than I can, and maybe not. It’s a complex thing to work out, all tied up in our need to love and be loved, to accept and be accepted, and to hear other voices around us – even those of us who are completely introverted. So I’ll end this post as my beloved ended his:
Why do you blog?